Time is getting shorter for St. Landry Parish school board members to decide how many new elementary schools will be built providing a 10-year property tax proposition passes during a parish wide March 26 election.
Board members are still no closer to making a final decision than they were in December on how many schools will be included in an estimated $150 million new construction Phase 1 plan for kindergarten through four grade campuses in Opelousas, Eunice, Sunset-area and Lawtell.
However at the end of a Building, Lands and Sites Committee meeting Monday night, board members decided to discuss the issue again during the regular February School Board meeting.
The Committee debated at length without reaching a decision on how many schools should be built in the Beau Chene High zone.
Superintendent Patrick Jenkins said residents in the Sunset area who attended focus group discussions on the matter last month indicated they prefer two new elementary schools – one in Cankton for K-4th grade students who now attend that school and Sunset and another for those in the same levels in Grand Coteau, Arnaudville and Leonville.
Lyn Kenley, construction manager for the overall project thinks he can potentially build two Beau Chene-zone schools for about $45.58 million.
Board member Kyle Boss, whose election district includes the Beau Chene area, said the continued population growth in that area merits building two schools rather than one.
Boss added that the Beau Chene zone is spread extensively, especially when you consider the distance between Cankton and Leonville.
Hazel Sias, a board member from the Opelousas area, noted that all students who attend elementary and middle schools in the Beau Chene area eventually attend the same high school.
What is certain at this point is if the tax proposition is approved, Opelousas will receive a new k-4 school ($34.4 million) and another for Eunice ($55.6 million).
Lawtell is also scheduled to receive a new k-4 school at a projected $15.1 million.
Kenley, who has discussed the new construction with the Board since July, told the Committee that the deadline for deciding which schools to construct in Phase 1 of the project is drawing near.
“You are running close on time. We need to start getting information done for the election. What I would like to do at this point is get the architects to provide drawings for the new schools, so the public can see them and what can be expected when they are completed,” Kenley said.